[guest post by Dana]
The candidate who frequently touts his deal-making prowess was seemingly unable to close the deal with Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) organizers. In spite of having quickly accepted the invitation to speak at the event, Donald Trump unexpectedly backed out yesterday. His campaign released this statement:
DONALD J. TRUMP IN WICHITA, KANSAS
The Donald J. Trump for President Campaign has just announced it will be in Wichita, Kansas for a major rally on Saturday, prior to the Caucus. Mr. Trump will also be speaking at the Kansas Caucus and then departing for Orlando, Florida to speak to a crowd of approximately 20,000 people or more. Because of this, he will not be able to speak at CPAC, as he has done for many consecutive years. Mr. Trump would like to thank Matt Schlapp and all of the executives at CPAC and looks forward to returning to next year, hopefully as President of the United States.
However, according to reports, Trump was unhappy that he was not given more speaking time, and concerned about having to face tough questions:
Trump also bristled at their insistence that he answer questions from a journalist of their choosing onstage after his speech, according to sources familiar with the planning. “They refused to accept the terms and they asked us to change the terms to allow him to give longer remarks,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, the group that sponsors CPAC. “And we said no to that.”
“Trump thinks everything is negotiable, but this wasn’t,” said the board member, who didn’t want to be identified discussing internal negotiations. “It’s ACU’s policy to have every presidential candidate actually answer questions, not just come and give a stump speech,” the board member said, noting the policy was implemented last year.
“It was about the fact that every candidate has to follow our ground rules. We made very clear with him, you’re allowed to give a speech, but you have to answer questions,” he explained. “I think that’s fair. And I think here’s the question as the frontrunner he still has to follow all these rules and there are certain ways that we deploy and certain decorum we have at CPAC, and everyone has got to follow them because we’re being fair because this is such a critical moment for conservatives in this nominating contest.”
After Trump’s poor performance at Thursday’s debate and his outrageous statements and immediate flip-flops, it’s not surprising he would rather not face close scrutiny, nor answer tough questions in a setting over which he would have very little control. Or perhaps he
was afraid of being embarrassed realized he would not be able to control hundreds of attendees staging a walk-out during his speech. Regardless, neither reaction seems like that of a real winner.
But there is also the possibility that Trump just doesn’t see CPAC as necessary to his success given that he still leads in the polls – including in Kansas and Florida…